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Inca trail.info - Peru facts tips and tours. Everything you need to know about visiting Peru

Peru facts tips and tours. Everything you need to know about visiting Peru.
Peru Facts, Tips & Tours
  1. History of Machu Picchu

    Archaeological evidence uncovered around the site suggests that the area was first used for agricultural purposes back in 760 B.C.

    The war of Vilcambamba Pachacutec in 1440 established the first settlement at the site. It was called the Tahuantinsuyo Empire which was later followed by the formation of the government of Manco Capac.

    It is thought that Machu Picchu was first inhabited by 300-1000 inhabitants, who were of the highest Class or "llactas".

    The valleys around these areas were important for their agricultural contribution, however after death of the Emperor Pachacutec, it lost it's importance, with the establishment of new sites like Ollaytantambo and Vilcambamba. The building of these new sites by his successors, in more accessible terrain made Machu Picchu less appealing.

    From 1527 to 1532, two brothers Huáscar and Atahualpa fought against each other in a civil war over the Inca Empire. Their father, Inca Huayna Capac had given each brother a section of the empire to manage, one in Huáscar in Cuzco and Atahualpa in Quito. When Huayna Capac and his heir, Ninan Cuyuchi, died somewhere between 1525 and 1527, the two brothers Atahualpa and Huáscar went to war over who should rule.  The population who had come to live in the Machu Picchu area from rural or remote locations left after the war ended to return to where they came from. Later another brother, Manco Inca was sent into exile in Vilcambamba, and Machu Picchu was deserted.

    Antonio Raimondi was an Italian geographer and scientist from Milan who visited Machu Picchu in 1851. In 1867 Augusto Berns arrived to mine the site.

    Hiram Bingham re-discovered the ruins in 1911. He documented and publicised his "discovery".

    Hiram Bingham

  2. Machu Picchu, Peru

    Although it's one of the most well-known archaeological wonders of the world, Machu Picchu still holds plenty of secrets and is on our shortlist of must-see destinations on a Peru trip.

    Machu Picchu, Peru

    Add picture with a caption showing actual clients with names linking to review.

    Machu Picchu is an enigma, some would say a paradox because it is known as both the best known yet least known about of the Inca sites. Since its discovery on July 24, 1911, by North American Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu has been considered one of the world's greatest architectural and archaeological monuments, due to its extraordinary magnificence and harmonious structure. Machu Picchu is definitely one of the most fascinating sites in Peru.

    At 2,400 meters above sea level, in the province of Urubamba, department of Cusco, Machu Picchu surprises us because of the way its stone constructions are spread over a narrow and uneven mountain top, bordering a sheer 400 meter cliff side of the Urubamba River canyon.

    Why and how was Machu Picchu built?

    Machu Picchu, Peru

    Machu Picchu is a citadel shrouded in mystery, and to this day archaeologists have not definitively uncovered the purpose of this city of stone. The site covers an area of about one square mile, and stands in a region that the Incas considered to be magical, due to the meeting of the Andes mountains with the mighty Amazon river. When 135 bodies were discovered while exploring the site, 109 of which were female, some believed that Machu Picchu could have been a monastery where acllas (young girls) were trained to serve the Inca and the Willac Uno (High Priest). Others said it may simply have been an advance settlement for further expansions planned by the Incas. Perhaps the mystery may never be fully explained.

    The surprising perfection and beauty of Machu Picchu's walls, built by joining stone to stone without using any cement or adhesive whatsoever, has led to many theories developing around how the city was constructed as well. It is said that a bird by the name of Kak'aqllu knew the formula for softening rock but by command, perhaps by the ancient Inca gods, had its tongue torn out. Others say there was a magic plant that could dissolve and compress stone. Nonetheless, mysteries and myths aside, the obvious wisdom and skill of the city's ancient builders -- evidenced by Machu Picchu's many squares, aqueducts, watchtowers, observatories and its sun clock -- is quite clear.

    Many people may be drawn to Peru by Machu Picchu, yet it is considered by many of our guests, to be just one of many of the ruins featuring on the "highlights reel"of their trip. See reviews to read more

    Machu Picchu hiking

    How to get to Machu Picchu - One day or multi day trails

    You can take a one day trip to Peru from Cuzco or Lima, and walk up to this citadel in the clouds high in the Andes, or you can take some time to get acclimatised and trek via several trails that lead to Machu Picchu, most taking around 4 to 5 days to complete. Alot of people begin their Peru trip with the intent of visiting Machu Picchu, but don't know how much more there is to see and do in and around Machu Picchu.

    After all, if you are going to Peru to experience a South American trip of a lifetime, why not learn about all the activities and other ruins there are to discover.

    Popular activities on our Peru trips (including Machu Picchu):

    1. Hiking the Lares or Classic Inca Trail
    2. Exploring Machu Picchu - facts about Machu Picchu
    3. Hiking in the Amazon jungle
    4. Sea kayaking on Lake Titicaca
    5. Staying with a local family on Amantani Island
    6. Hiking Sacsayhuamán fortress
    7. Hiking and cycle in the Sacred Valley of the Incas
    8. Exploring Cuzco
    9. Cycling through Andean villages and La Raya Pass
    10. Hiking Amantani and Taquile Islands

    [link to above pages Will]

    You may be surprised at the number of activities you can do in Peru, in fact it's a surprise to alot of people that it is possible to enjoy these "non Machu Picchu focused" activities at all. Our philosophy is a little different to many tour companies, we believe that if you are going to travel all the way to a new country to experience a whole new culture, why not experience as many perspectives, local cultures and ruins as you can while you are there.

    Obviously the most popular trail chosen by visitors wanting to visit Machu Picchu is the Inca Trail. Some people prefer the Lares trail because it offers a much more immersive experience in Peruvian village culture. If you wants to experience some of the traditions and village life the early Inca's enjoyed, you can stay with their descendants in one of the many villages along the Lares Trail.

    If you want to hike the traditional route,  take a sneak peak below at some of what the Inca Trail has to offer.

    Hike to Machu Picchu on the ancient Inca Trail

    The Inca Trail between the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River and the mysterious abandoned citadel of Machu Picchu is one of the world's classic treks. Climbing out of the river valley, crossing rugged mountain passes over 13,000 ft high, the trail winds through the Andes, passing numerous significant Inca ruins en route before descending through the Sun Gate to the silent stone city of Machu Picchu. To hike the Inca Trail is a thrilling experience and a great privilege. You need a permit from the Peruvian government to set foot on it, and there are strict limits on the number of permits issued each year.

    But the Inca Trail is much more than a great hike. It is one small portion of an incredible network of such trails crossing high mountain ranges, bleak deserts, and raging Andean rivers, tying the Inca Empire together. At its peak expansion, Tahuantinsuyo (or The Four Corners as the empire was known) extended from what is now southern Colombia in the north, to central Chile in the south, covering a distance of about 5500 km (3400 mi). To rule such a vast domain, the emperor, or Inca, forged a remarkable communications system of approximately 18,600 miles of trails, paved through much of its length, stepped where need be, through tunnels where necessary, and using gossamer suspension bridges built of straw ropes to cross rivers unfordable in the wet season.

    The roads served to move the conquering Inca armies, and were generally wide enough for a minimum of two warriors to travel abreast. A system of runners stationed at rest houses known as tambos sped messages along the roadways, much like the Pony Express mail of the old American West. The Inca, at his empire's capital in Cuzco, could receive news from far away Quito as rapidly as a letter crosses between the two cities in today's mail.

    As remarkable as this highway system was in the days when it was built, used and maintained, it is an astounding testimony to its construction that so many segments remain serviceable today, after half a millennium of neglect. Clearly the Inca highway system ranks as one of the greatest engineering achievements of pre-industrial man.

    The full Inca Trail is approximately 40km long. Spread over 4 days, this amounts to about five hours walking per day, although you can walk at your own pace - you are not forced to walk with your group the whole time. It is not a difficult walk, although there are a couple of high passes, and a steep climb on the second day, so a basic level of fitness is required.

    Alternative Routes To Get To Machu Picchu other than the Inca Trail (link to another page how to get to machu picchu)

    Lares Trail (link)

    Inca Trail (link)

    Aventura Fantastica!

    “This was our second Active Adventures trip and while we went to Peru mainly to see Machu Picchu, I feel it was only a fraction of the fun we had during our trip. For me, hiking at 14,000+ feet, climbing rocks via ferrata to go zip lining was an awesome experience despite being very prone to altitude illness (we got there a day early and I was fine by the second day) and having a hubby who is very afraid of heights. Machu Picchu was magnificent but I really enjoyed the less crowded Incan and pre-Incan sites we visited more because we had them nearly all to ourselves. Our tour leader Jhayro and another local guide Daniel (who we had for 3 days in Peru) also made our trip extra special being so friendly and fun to be with both while leading us on adventures as well as during meals and on the bus.

    The food we had in Peru was excellent and that is coming from someone who is usually viewed as a picky eater with a fussy stomach. My hubby, who is a much more adventurous eater than I, tried alpaca and guinea pig and both were surprisingly good (yes, I tried them too!). After a couple days, we were used to not drinking the tap water or flushing paper down toilets so neither were a big deal. In fact, when we were in Quito, it seemed strange to be able to do so!

    For the Galapagos portion of our trip, we were led by Jose since our scheduled guide Pablo couldn't be there due to a family emergency. Jose was very knowledgable about the local geology, flora, fauna and variety of other things and with several in our group being (former) teachers or scientists, we sure did ask a lot of questions. The unique wildlife of the islands was the primary reason I wanted to visit and I loved seeing Galapagos turtles again as I'd not seen them since I was a child back in the 60's (I remember riding on some in a zoo which I know now was so wrong!). It was my first time seeing marine iguanas and blue footed boobies in the wild and I also enjoyed seeing a variety of other creatures that are in other places but we don't see very often, even living in Hawaii which has very similar geology.

    Like Hawaii, each of the Galapagos Islands was different and it was interesting to see how they varied. The different forms of transportation we used to get from island to island were also adventures in themselves: 2 hour ride on a speed boat and an hourish ride on a teeny prop plane!

    The only thing that was not quite what we expected with this trip was that some of the activities listed on the Galapagos Island itinerary we did not get to do. Nevertheless, the trip was fantastic and being probably my one and only trip to South America, it will always be remembered.”

    Shirley Pratt's Review Image

    Shirley Pratt – Hawaii, United States
    Iguana, May 2016

    READ REVIEWS

     

     

    To learn more about Peru as a destination, download our Brochure or join our Newsletter

     

    Related Content

     

    Lake Titicaca

    Peru Trips

  3. My flight was booked! My dream of hiking the Inca Trail, and walking through the sun gate to Machu Picchu was finally becoming a reality. But then, the reality hit me. I have never done an overnight hike before! What do I pack? How do I get into shape? Is it safe? Do I go alone or with a group?As excited as I was, I realized I had a lot of planning ahead of me, but every moment of preparation (and sometimes extreme anxiety) was all worth it. Here are a few tips and tricks that helped me not only survive the Inca Trail, but have the trip of a lifetime!

    Tips for hiking the Inca Trail

    1. Find an Incredible Tour Group

    Before booking my trip, I was not sure how I felt about going with a tour group. I was worried that traveling with a group of strangers would take away from the trip. However, after plenty of research, I decided to go with Active Adventures on the Ultimate Peru Adventure.

    Our trip leader was not only full of helpful and interesting information, but became a friend who gave local tips, and made me feel comfortable and safe. I became close friends with my small tour group of 10 people, and still keep in touch with them. Picking a quality tour group like Active Adventures not only helped take the stress out of travelling logistics, but is truly what made my trip an enjoyable experience. (And for all the foodies out there, our Inca Trail chefs were incredible).

    tour-group

    1. Get FitGet Fit

    On the Inca Trail we had people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels. However, I highly recommend preparing your body a little, and familiarizing yourself with how your body reacts to high altitude. But, don’t worry, you don’t need to an extreme amount of training. To prepare, I went on one to two hikes a week, and did plenty of dog walking. My hikes on average ranged from 3 to 7 miles.

    However, as fit as you are, everybody reacts differently to altitude.Try finding a hike in your area that has somewhat of a higher altitude. I only had the opportunity to do one higher altitude hike. It was not as high as the Inca Trail, but it still gave me an idea of how my body feels in high altitude. But don’t stress out too much! Your tour leader has helped many people hike the Inca Trail, and will be there to help you if you start to feel sick, or simply need a little extra motivation.

    1. Technology Tools

    I am a firm believer in digital detoxing when traveling, but when hiking in the wilderness, it is comforting to know that I have helpful resources at my fingertips if I ever need it. When hiking or traveling, there are always a few resources and apps I like to have on my phone or iTouch to stay safe.

    As a traveler, we are more vulnerable to security threats or identity theft on public computers and Wi-Fi. I choose to use a VPN when traveling for Wi-Fi security in hotels, to avoid computer viruses, and to gain access to content that is geo-blocked. For my Inca Trail trek I downloaded the MotionX GPS app. The app supports GPS navigation without the need for cell service. Thankfully our guides kept us on track, but it was comforting knowing that if anything happened, I could use my phone as a backup for navigation help.

    1. Make a Visit to Your Doctor

    When traveling anywhere, it is important to check in with your doctor. Different regions of the world may require various vaccinations, or medication. Before visiting your doctor, it is also helpful to do a little bit of your own research as to what medications or vaccinations are needed for travel. Your doctor may be familiar with vaccinations needed for Peru, but you are the only person who knows what your trip will consist of. Be sure to mention to your doctor if you are going to the Peruvian Amazon, or high altitude.

    For the Inca Trail I recommend packing the following medications:

    -Altitude sickness medication (Acetazolamide)

                           -Imodium

                           -Antibiotics (Ciprofloxacin)

                           -Bug spray (not technically a medication, but important to bring as well)

                           -Ibuprofen (always good to have)

    This list is most likely what your doctor will recommend as well, but be sure to do your own research as well. You may need malaria pills or certain vaccinations depending on where else your trip is going, or personal previous medical history.

    1. Pack LightPack Light

    The hardest part of my trip (aside from trekking up the stairs of the Inca Trail) was packing! There are several limitations on how much you pack on the Inca Trail in order to maintain that porters are being treated fairly and respectfully. Each porter is limited to carrying 20kg. This includes all blankets, clothes, and the porter’s personal belongings. Talk to your Active Adventure tour guide before leaving on your trip to find out up to date information on how much you are able to pack, and information on sleeping bags and pads.

    Aside from packing light, there are of course certain items you will want to pack, depending on the time of year your trek is. I used Her Packing List, along with the information provided by Active Adventures to help me in packing everything I need.

    1. Have the Time of Your Life

    Last, but not least, be ready to have incredible experiences and memories that will last a life time. When I first booked my trip to Peru and the Inca Trail I had certain expectations and ideas of what the trip would be like. I was looking forward to seeing Machu Picchu, but what I found was that the most memorable and exciting parts of my trip were not necessarily seeing the big tourist spots like Machu Picchu, but the journey getting there, and the unexpected surprises that came along the way. Peru and its people exceeded all expectations, and opened my mind in ways I did not know were possible.

    Hi, my name is Jess Signet. My parents were travelers since before I was born. Even in the womb, I was able to travel all over the place! Boy, did things NOT change as I grew older!
    Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble I live in made me want to travel even further. Traveling is my drug and I’m addicted. (Please, no intervention!)

     

  4. Planning a little solo jaunt across the land? If this is your first time planning your virgin solo adventure, I understand completely how excited and nervous you are. I was once in your shoes.

    Before you slap on your backpack and march out that door, here’s a small checklist of things you might want to do to ensure a better trip.

    Solo Travelling

    Image courtesy of bluetidalwave.com

    Research, Research, Research

    It doesn’t matter if you’re headed into uncharted territory or a bustling metropolis, it only helps if you already know what to expect when you set foot in your destination. A quick google search should give you enough information on things like the local culture, geography, weather and political climate to start with. Oh, and do not forget to check out the local laws, either-written and unwritten. People have in the past gotten into trouble for using the wrong gesture or for looking the wrong person in the eye. Did you also know that shaking your head can be interpreted as ‘yes’ in India?

    “Hi, would you like to buy some drugs?

    – Nervously shakes head –

    “Great! Here’s two kilograms of cocaine!”

    Kuh-Myoo-Nick-Ashion

    Learn a few words and phrases from the local language and the appropriate situations to use them in. You would be surprised at how much a ‘Yallah’ or a ‘Habibi’ can get people to warm up to you in the Middle East. Also, knowing the language makes ordering food that much easier. Just saying.

    Who Ya’ Gonna Call?

    It’s very useful to have in hand a bunch of contacts that you can get in touch with if-knock on wood- you should ever find yourself in trouble, eg: Your home country’s Embassy/Consulate(stolen passports are a thing in some countries you know?), local emergency numbers etc. If you have friends or relatives in the country/area, make sure you have their numbers as well. There’s no telling what kind of emergency you might encounter on the road.

    Link Up With Other Travellers And Locals!

    This is for many people, the single greatest reward of solo travel-meeting new people. There’s so much you discover from engaging with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Yes, I’m being captain obvious here, but it’s a point that just had to be reiterated.  Being alive in the internet age has its perks.

    A slew of apps and websites have made it that much easier for travelers to get in touch with people at their destinations. It doesn’t matter if you’re just hanging out with your host from ‘AirBnB’ and ‘Couchsurfing’ or finding fellow travelers to share in your adventure from ‘Penroads’, you’re guaranteed to meet some cool people on your journey. As a matter of fact, Penroads is the best way for you to connect with international travellers coming in from all over the world, so it’s definitely a useful tool to have (It’s a shameless plug. I am so sorry. But it really works!).

    Stay Healthy!

    Last but never the least, take care of your body. Stay hydrated. It’s no good if your mind yells “Onward!” and your body groans “Hell no!”. Find out if you need to get vaccinated before setting off. Carry some basic medicines and bandages if you can, especially if you’re venturing into the wilderness. On occasion you might have to be careful about where and what you eat as well. Talk to someone who has travelled to India and you just might hear the story about how the delicious chicken Tikka from a street vendor gave them a bad case of ‘Delhi Belly’.

    Happy tripping!

    Parag Murali is the Marketing & Happiness Manager at penroads.com. He combines his love for travelling and people into a daily passion for bringing travellers together. You can contact him at parag@penroads.com for just about anything, so feel free!

     

  5. One of the most popular hikes in South America, the Inca Trail is definitely the experience of a lifetime. A centuries-old trail, it begins in the ancient Incan capital of Cusco and winds some 88 kilometers to some of the world’s most iconic ruins: Machu Picchu. Of course, the entirety of Inca Trail is absolutely stunning, from stunning snowcapped Andean peaks to centuries-old ruins situated in bucolic river valleys. However, these 5 highlights are truly bound to make your jaw drop.

    Wayllabamba.The endpoint of the first day’s trek along the Inca Trail, Wayllabamba, which means “grassy plain” in Quechua, is the perfect spot to watch the sunset behind the dramatic Andean peaks. This grassy plain overlooks a stunning spot of Andean scenery, with centuries-old Incan terraces winding through the surrounding mountainsides. There is even a village nearby where travelers can mingle with local villagers.

    Wayllabamba

    Image courtesy of flatfootedadventurer.com

    The Valley of Llulluchapampa.Trekkers will start off the first portion of day two of the journey hiking through the picturesque Valley of Llulluchapampa. As you gradually ascend in altitude, you will even be afforded perfect views of stunning snowcapped cliffs.

    Valley of Llulluchapampa

    Image courtesy of Panoramio.com

    Runkuracay:This unique oval structure, sometimes colloquially know as the “Egg Hut,” is believed to have been a kind of rest stop for Incan travelers, called a tambo, providing them with a place to spend the night and rest their animals. It is the perfect place to enjoy a mid-hike break and marvel at the beauty of Incan architecture.

    Runkuracay

    Image courtesy of lenstherapy.wordpress.com

    Sayacmarca: First discovered by the famous Hiram Bingham when he wandered along a road extending from Machu Picchu, the dramatic Sayacmarca is situated at a fork in an old Incan road in a dense subtropical forest full of butterflies and hummingbirds. Quechua for “Dominant Town,” these unique ruins have an almost mystical air about them and are arguably the most impressive along the Inca Trail (except for Machu Picchu itself, of course!). It is believed that Sayacmarca was actually built by the Colla, a major enemy of the Incas, and that the Incas took over the site following their conquest of the group.

    Sayacmarca

    Image courtesy of 4feet2mouths.com

    Phuyupatamarca:Dubbed “La Ciudad entre la Niebla” (“The City above the Clouds”), this major archeological site is situated a staggering 3,200 meters above sea level. Apropos to the nickname, Phuyupatamarca is very often surrounded by dense, white clouds. The ruins, dramatically constructed into a steep cliffside, contain five stone baths that fill up with freshwater during the rainy season. It is believed that these baths were used for religious ceremonies. Visitors can also check out the site’s elaborate hydraulic system, a true testament to impressive capabilities of Incan engineering. Of all of the Incan ruins in the region, Phuyupatamarca is arguably the most intact and therefore a truly spectacular site for trekkers passing through.

    "Phuyupatamarca (cloud-level town)" by D. Gordon E. Robertson - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    "Phuyupatamarca (cloud-level town)" by D. Gordon E. Robertson - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

    Huiñay Huayna (Wiñay Wayna):Huiñay Huayna (traditionally spelled Wiñay Wayna in Quechua, the language of the Incas) was constructed into a steep hillside overlooking the Urubamba River. In addition to the site’s ancient houses and temples, it also boasts an incredibly complex system of Incan terraces, formerly used for agriculture. The name of the site roughly translates to “Forever Young,” and many trekkers report that these ruins are the most beautiful found along the trail.

    Winay Wayna Peru

    Image courtesy of http://blog.teara.govt.nz

    These are just some of what you will see along the Inca Trail: Learn more about popular Inca Trail itineraries here

  6. *Guest Post* Many of my followers ask me how I travel so frequently and how do I manage my budget. I book my flight and hotel through FareoAir deals, I have been using this website for quite some time and I find their deals pretty good and economical. Anyhow, here is a collection of a few destinations which I find the best in terms of cuisine and suggest that you visit them if you are a food lover too.

    Morocco

    Want to know where you will find the best Berber cuisine? Well go to Morocco as it’s the best place on the planet for Berber cuisine. This means you get to eat your food in ancient medina towns served in tagine fragrant pots with delectable herbal teas. Plus you get to taste some of the North Africa’s freshest sea food.

    India

    Have you ever tried the spicy veggie Biryani? If no then a visit to India is must in Southern Kerala you will find delicious spicy veggie biryani. In Uttar Pradesh the thali platters of different food will amaze your taste buds and the smoked fish of Nagaland is scrumptious. Indian cuisine is without any doubt the most varied and has the most use of spices in it. It’s the perfect place to tease your taste buds.

    Jamaica

    We all like fresh food – and honestly speaking who doesn’t like fresh food? If you love fresh food too then Jamaica is the place to be. Stroll down in the Negril early morning an pick fresh plums from the branches of the trees before you settle at a rustic bamboo island hut for some fried salt water fish and ackee with a shot of rum. Delicious isn’t it.

    New Zealand

    Well the phrase surf and turf is perfect for New Zealand, it’s a strange combination of the finest Oysters from the Pacific Ocean and the highlander lamb cuts in the high-class restaurants of New Zealand with their traditional Maori style cooking. And yes how can I forget their wines, visit the cellars of Otago and you will never want to leave the place again.

    Peru

    Peruvian food is a true melting pot of multicultural flavors and cultures. In the last few years it has gained a reputation for being one of the finest fares on the culinary list of international favorites. Peruvian food is a little bit chinese, a little bit Japanese, Inca and Spanish thanks to the varied immigrant population of Japanese in this country - even Peru's leader is of Japanese descent. In Peru you can try many dishes like Cuy Asado (guinea pig), Lomo Saltado (the dish below) and Aji de Gallina (a thick testy chicken stew) from our Peruvian Food You Can't Miss on Your Machu Picchu Trip article.

    Lomo Saltado

    Thailand

    No food-lover will forget the food street of Bangkok, with its delicious variety of street food Thailand is another attraction that attracts many food lovers. They sell everything from coconut masaman, to Thai noodle soup and barbequed critters on sticks. Thailand is a place with a very different yet enticing food.

    Italy

    Yes at last my most favorite destination Italy. There is simply no denying that the Italians gave us the best food in the world Pizza and Pasta. Those crispy cheesy bases from the wooden ovens of Napoli are the best there is no denying in that. The roman kitchens also produce the finest cheese, aromatic coffees, fresh smoked fishes, and ligurian pesto and saffron risottos. All these dishes make Italy one of the best food destinations on the planet.

  7. So you've decided to hike Machu Picchu? Well great! There's no doubt that you're in for the experience of a lifetime. However, the truth of the matter is that now you've got some additional decisions to make. You see, there's more than one route to arrive to the world-famous Inca site, and even once you've arrived there are a few choices to make as well.

    But don't fret! If you're looking to hike Machu Picchu, we've got the information you need to start planning your trip.

    Hike Machu Picchu: Arriving to the Site

    1. Classic Inca Trail

    The Inca Trail is one of the most popular ways to hike Machu Picchu.

    The Classic Inca Trail is a four-day trek stretching some 42 kilometers along an ancient road built by the Incas themselves. This is undoubtedly the most famous route to Machu Picchu, and it's the one way that offers the opportunity to enter the city through its storied Sun Gate. Frankly, we've got tons of information on the Inca Trail on other pages of our site, so we won't waste too much space being redundant here. Check out these pages for more information on the trail's itinerary as well as for access to an Inca Trail map.

    2. One-Day Inca Trail

    The one-day Inca Trail is a fine option to hike Machu Picchu if you're short on time or physical conditioning!

    Whether you're crunched for time or simply don't feel physically up to four full days of trekking, don't fret--a small taste of the world-famous Inca Trail is still available to you! A number of tour companies offer an abridged version of the trek, either one full day of hiking or a shortened day followed by a night of camping and a dawn arrival at Machu Picchu. Besides the Inca Trail's famed destination, the one-day version of the trek also takes you past Wiñay Wayna, another favorite ruins along the trail. The bad news here is that you'll still need to reserve one of only a few hundred daily Inca Trail passes, meaning that, just like the full Inca Trail, you'll need to book this trek months in advance.

    3. Lares Trail

    The Lares Trail offers a more culturally-geared way to hike Machu Picchu.

    Just north of the world-famous Sacred Valley sits the comparatively lesser-known Lares Valley, and whereas the former can be swarmed with tourists especially during the high season, life in the Lares Valley continues humming along relatively unchanged. So whether you're looking for a simpler, more culturally-immersive experience or if you just didn't book an Inca Trail pass in time, the Lares Trail is an excellent option! Lucky for you, we've already gathered plenty of information on the Lares Trail including the trek's daily itinerary and a side-by-side comparison of the Lares and Inca Trails if you're struggling to decide how to hike Machu Picchu.

    4. Vilcabamba Traverse Route

    The Vilcabamba Traverse Route is perhaps the most adventurous way to hike Machu Picchu.

    Warning--this option is neither for the faint of heart nor the out of shape! The Vilcabamba Traverse Route is one of the newest on the Peru trekking circuit, clocking in at nearly 100 kilometers over the course of a week of trekking. Though very difficult, the route is especially rewarding--think a variety of diverse biomes and the ruins of Choquequirao, often compared to Machu Picchu although less than 40% of the site has been excavated (pictured above). Though visited by only 5,000 or so brave trekkers last year, be warned--the local government is pushing a plan to build a cable car to the site! If you want to see the ruins in their current, undisturbed state, it would be best to go sooner than later.

    Hike Machu Picchu: Once You're There

    5. Huayna Picchu

    Huayna Picchu is a fine addition to your visit when you've decided to hike Machu Picchu!

    Just because you've finally arrived at Machu Picchu doesn't mean your hiking experience has to end! The famous mountain soaring in the background of most iconic Machu Picchu photos is possible to hike, and the experience is certainly recommended. The views from the top are great, and on the way down you can even take a back route to the storied Temple of the Moon. For more information on Huayna Picchu, you can check out this past post on our site.

    So that's it for today! If you're planning to hike Machu Picchu and have any questions you'd like to ask us, feel free to reach out in the comments section below. And, if you've already done one of these hikes, feel free to share your experience as well. We appreciate all of your comments!
  8. Travel is fun, when you plan things properly. If you have visited many countries, then surely you have made many mistakes such as booking resorts at wrong places or buying costly souvenirs which are easily available in your country. We all make silly mistakes when we visit a new country and there is no need to feel ashamed. What you need to do is make sure that you don’t repeat those mistakes.

    When it comes to mistakes, I am not talking about flight or hotel ticket booking blunders. There are many more small oversights that can ruin your vacation. Let’s explore some of the common mistakes that tourists make every year.

    Peru Map

    No research about the place: You may know the name of the country, its capital and its currency exchange rate, but do you really know the place you are visiting? For example, in India, there are many prepaid taxi booths that charge right amount for a trip, but if you just pick any cab from the road, the driver may charge you double because you don’t know the route to your destination. Similarly, it is important to know the things you can and can’t do in the place you are visiting. For example, taking pictures is prohibited in many religious places.

    Over-packing: Never carry too many clothes, because you are going to carry your bags, and if those are too heavy, you will curse yourself. Besides, the airlines charge hefty amount if your luggage crosses the weight limit. Always pack only those things that are necessary for the place you are visiting. For example, if you are going to Tadoba tiger reserve forest and staying at Tadoba tiger resort, then you don’t need to pack a cocktail party dress. It is better to pack a few jeans and t-shirts.

    Speaking English only: Try to learn a few sentences in the local language. For example, words of greetings, how to ask for road directions and how to ask the price of something. The more you communicate with the locals in their own language, the more confident you will feel.

    Disrespecting the customs: India is a conservative county, and the culture of Indians is very different from Americans. However, that does not mean you can mock or disrespect their culture. For example, Americans enter churches wearing shoes, but in India, you can’t wear shoes in a temple. Respect the rule while visiting any temple in India. After all, you are visiting a new country to understand its culture.

    Reading guidebooks only: Guidebooks are for references and they can’t give you all the information about the place. For example, a guidebook may tell you that Taj Mahal is wonderful, but unless you raise your face from the book, can you truly appreciate its beauty?

    Booking hotels and flights separately: Take a look at the famous travel portals and you will find that they are offering great hotel + airplane deals. When you book return tickets and also hotel rooms, you can save a few hundred dollars. Besides, it is a hassle free process as you are getting everything from one site.

    Interrupting the guide: You can be the history professor in a college, but if you interrupt the guide when he is talking about a historical place, then you are being rude. All the other tourists have paid for the guided tour and by interrupting the guide frequently you are making everyone angry.

    So, when you visit a foreign country this year, make sure that you don’t make the mistakes mentioned above. Enjoy nature, history and culture of the place you are visiting and you will feel rejuvenated by the end of your vacation.

    If you like traveling to exotic places, check out our Machu Picchu Tours page

  9. When someone mentions “Peru,” images of bucolic mountain pastures, ancient Incan ruins, and verdant Amazonian jungle are probably the first thing that pop into your mind. But this beautiful South American nation boasts miles and miles of gorgeous Pacific coastline, and it is also home to some amazing beaches. Let’s take a look at some of best beaches Peru has to offer.

    Cabo Blanco:Arguably the most famous beach along Peru’s 2,500 kilometers of coastline, Cabo Blanco is routinely hailed as one the best surf spots in the world. When Peruvian surfer Gordo Barreda was scouting the area for great waves, he randomly paid a visit to the village, where he stumbled upon the now famous Peruvian Pipeline. A hollow, powerful left-hanging wave, it is arguably one of the best places to catch a wave on the continent’s entire Pacific coastline. Even before Barreda’s famous discovery, this fishing hamlet long enchanted visitors with its small-town charm and thriving fishing industry. In the 1950s and 1960s, fishermen routinely made the trek to Cabo Blanco in search of the area’s legendary large marlin. The famous writer Ernest Hemmingway spent several months here during the filming of the movie adaptation of his novel “The Old Man and the Sea.” During his stay, he reportedly caught a 700-pound marlin.

    Cabo Blanco Peru

    Mancora:Once a quaint fishing village, Mancora has exploded onto Peru’s backpacker scene as a major hub in the last decade or so. Located right in the middle of Peru’s sunniest and warmest region, you can relax on beautiful beaches during the day and then party the night away. Mancora is great for travelers on a budget, and cheap hostels abound.

    Vichayito:If you want great beaches without a slew of rowdy partiers, Vichayito is an excellent option. Situated about 7 kilometers to the south of Mancora, this is an ideal spot for families. The water is ideal for swimming and kite surfing, and the beaches are clean and quiet.

    Punta Hermosa:Just an hour drive from Peru’s capital, Punta Hermosa is popular with Limeños looking for a summer retreat from the city. While not as spectacular as the beaches of Paracas or Mancora, Punta Hermosa’s proximity to Lima makes it a great option for looking for a quick weekend escape from the city.

    Asia:Peru’s most opulent beach, Asia is all about glitz and glamour. The upper echelons of Peruvian society have luxurious summer homes at this beach resort town, making it a hub of wealth. The beaches are great, but what really make Asia stand out are its high-end restaurants, luxury shopping center, and dazzling nightclubs.

    Asia Beach {eru

    Paracas:The Paracas National Reserve boasts some of Peru’s most dramatic desert landscape. Here, enormous sand dunes and dramatic sandstone rock formations meet the azure waters of the Pacific. The reserve, which consists of a total of 335,000 hectares of tropical desert on the Paracas Peninsula, is intended to preserve the area’s rich marine ecosystem as well as protect its unique cultural heritage (the site was of great significance to the Paracas, a pre-Colombian indigenous group that inhabited the area between roughly 800 BC and 1000 BC). There are no formal hotels within the reserve, though there are many sites popular with beach campers.

    If you are looking for more luxurious accommodations, they can certainly also be found. Though beach destinations to the north of the country often attract the majority of tourist attention, it is Paracas where you will find the most luxurious beach vacations Peru has to offer. Just a few miles from the park’s entrance, you will find Hotel Paracas, a Luxury Collection Resort complete with 5-star accommodations, three pools, and a luxury spa.

    Marcona:For those really looking to get off of Peru’s beaten tourist trail, we recommend a visit to the rugged, windswept beaches of Marcona, located roughly 8 hours south of Lima. The waters here can be quite cold year-round thanks to the Humboldt current, which brings water up from Antarctica along the Pacific coast of Chile and southern Peru. But the cold temperatures mean that waters are teeming with marine life. With any bit of luck, visitors might catch a glimpse of one of the zone’s enormous seal colonies. The beaches are known for their dramatic rock formations and rough surf, but they are a great place for those looking for options totally free of tourists.

    Marcona Beach Peru

    Courtesy of flickrhivemind.net

    So they you have it, our pick of the best Peruvian beaches. Happy adventuring in Peru!

  10. Perhaps you've read somewhere or other that there are over 3,000 traditional Peruvian festivals held throughout the year? It's a popular claim that pops up time and again in guidebooks and on websites, and though we ourselves haven't verified the number, it certainly wouldn't surprise us! Peru is a country that holds onto its traditions while increasingly embracing innovation as well, a perfect storm for festivals and fiestas of all types to flourish and to grow.

    If you're planning to visit Peru, you might find yourself intrigued by the prospect of observing, or even participating in, one of these many different Peruvian festivals. If that's the case, you're in luck--we've taken the liberty to compile a list of some of our favorite Peruvian festivals, including one for each month of the year in hopes that you'll find something that corresponds with the dates of your trip. Keep in mind that this is very much just the tip of the iceberg--all of these Peruvian festivals are fantastic, but there are many more that we've had to leave out simply due to the nature of our list. If we haven't included any options that work out with your travel itinerary, don't fret--get to researching and we're sure you'll find the festival for you.

    So without further ado, let's get to it! Here is our list of twelve awesome Peruvian festivals, one for each month of the year:

    1. January--Trujillo Marinera Festival

    The Trujillo Marinera Festival, one of our favorite Peruvian festivals, is held annually in January.

    Trujillo, a coastal city in northern Peru, is the traditional home of the marinera, an elegant couple's dance making use of handkerchiefs as props. Since 1986 it's been the official national capital of this dance, a status celebrated annually in a month-long marinera festival held throughout the city! The Festival de Marinera, as it's known in Spanish, features dance competitions, parades, and even exhibitions of the Peruvian Paso, a breed of horse also recognized as part of the cultural patrimony of the Trujillo region. One of our favorite Peruvian festivals, this one is a can't miss if you find yourself in the area during January.

    2. February--Fiesta de la Candelaria

    The Fiesta de la Candelaria is one of the largest Peruvian festivals.

    The Fiesta de la Candelaria is not only the largest and most famous festival in Peru, but also one of the largest in South America as a whole--in fact, throughout the continent, it's only dwarfed by the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and the Carnaval de Ouro in Bolivia. The first of many religious Peruvian festivals on our list, the Fiesta de la Candelaria celebrates the Virgin of Candelaria, the patron saint of the town of Puno where the festivities are held. Music and dance are at the core of this festival, all of it performed by elaborately-costumed participants numbering well over 40,000. An incredible two week-long synthesis of indigenous and Catholic traditions, this is one of the most iconic Peruvian festivals.

    3. March--Festival Internacional de la Vendimia

    The Festival Internacional de la Vendimia is one of our favorite Peruvian festivals.

    Depending upon where Easter falls during a given year, the month of March can either be very busy or very quiet as far as major Peruvian festivals are concerned. That said, we figured we may as well take a break from the religious festivals to focus on something else with a different sort of appeal--wine! The Ica Region of Peru is famous for a number of things, the Nazca Lines and the desert oasis of La Huacachina among them, but those in-the-know also recognize it as the finest wine-producing region in the country. This role has been celebrated annually in March since the 1950s during the Festival Internacional de la Vendimia, or the International Harvest Festival, in which a queen is famously chosen to ceremoniously stomp the first grapes of the season.

     4. April--Festividad del Señor del los Temblores del Cusco

    Image of the Lord of the Earthquakes, one of the major Peruvian festivals in Cusco.

    Image appears courtesy of www.photoexperience.net.

    El Señor de los Temblores, or the Lord of the Earthquakes, is the patron saint of Cusco and the celebratory focus of this major Holy Week celebration. The story goes that during an earthquake here in 1650, a canvas image of Jesus Christ was held to the sky as prayers were offered, causing the tremors to subside and saving the town from ruin. Since then, this statue commemorating the original image has become the focal point of an important annual celebration. Each Easter Monday at 7 PM, the statue is removed from Cusco's cathedral and paraded throughout the city. Amazingly, it's said that the statue was not originally black, but rather that its color is due to years of exposure to smoke from incense during religious ceremonies.

    5. May--Fiesta de las Cruces

    Fiesta de las Cruces is one of the most widely-celebrated Peruvian festivals.

    First of all, let's be clear: the Fiesta de las Cruces, or the Festival of the Crosses, is not a uniquely Peruvian celebration. However, the way the Peruvians celebrate it does make it one of the most important Peruvian festivals. You see, the Festival of the Crosses is not held in just one spot in the country. Rather, the festival is celebrated in towns and cities throughout Peru, each putting their own unique spin on things. Though the name may conjure up solemn images, don't worry--festivals throughout the Peruvian highlands include music, dancing, and even events such as bullfighting as part of the celebrations.

    6. June--Inti Raymi

    Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Sun, is one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals.

    Inti Raymi, the ancient Inca Festival of the Sun, is one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals on our list, indigenous in design and untouched by Catholic tradition. Held annually on June 24th, Inti Raymi is meant to celebrate the Winter Solstice--remember that we're in the Southern Hemisphere here! Banned by the Spanish and the Catholic Church after 1535, the modern incarnation of the celebration began in 1944 based on the few historical records of the festivities that managed to survive. Since then it has grown in size and scope, and though sometimes derided as tourist pageantry by detractors, its historical and cultural significance definitely make it worth checking out among the many Peruvian festivals.

    7. July--Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen

    The Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen is one of many Peruvian festivals related to the Catholic religion.

    Image appears courtesy of canadiansocietyforasianarts.org.

    Another fine example of traditional Andean culture blended with Catholicism, the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen is held annually around the 16th of July in the relatively small town of Paucartambo, some four hours outside of Cusco. This three or four day festival is nominally religious but also one of the biggest and wildest parties in Peru, drawing visitors from all over the country, many of whom pass the nights sleeping under the stars as there's simply not enough space in town! If you know what you're looking for, you'll actually notice some serious Peruvian history depicted in the festival's songs, costumes, and dance--for example, black-masked dancers represent African slaves imported to work the silver mines here during the colonial era.

    8. August--Día de Santa Rosa de Lima

    Festivities celebrating Santa Rosa de Lima comprise some of the biggest Peruvian festivals.

    Santa Rosa de Lima was the first native-born American saint canonized by the Catholic Church, and her legacy is celebrated throughout the world. However, it should come as no surprise that the grandest festivities take place in her home country of Peru. On August 30th, the anniversary of her death, celebrations and memorials take place throughout the country, the most famous being in Santa Rosa de Quives just outside of the capital city itself.

    9. September--Mistura Culinary Festival

    Mistura Culinary Festival is one of our favorite Peruvian festivals.

    As you should know by now, Peruvian cuisine is some of the world's best and Lima in particular features what is probably South America's most impressive culinary scene. And as if the food wasn't enticing enough year round, the prospect of eating your way through Peru becomes even more appealing each September when the Mistura Culinary Festival rolls around. Featuring over 200 restaurants and bars not to mention plenty of outdoor vendors and food carts, well over half a million visitors stop by to enjoy the festival's offerings over the course of some ten days in mid-September. Though certainly not one of the most traditional Peruvian festivals on our list, this is without a doubt the most delicious.

    10. October--Procesión del Señor de los Milagros

    The main Catholic celebration is one of the largest Peruvian festivals.

    The story might sound a bit familiar--an 18th Century earthquake destroyed a good part of town leaving only this iconic image of Jesus Christ standing. This was considered a miracle, the image became even more venerated, and with time the celebration of its feast day became the largest religious celebration in Peru featuring one of the longest processions of any religious gathering in the world. If you're just looking to have fun, this one probably isn't for you--however, this considerably more solemn celebration is one of the most important Peruvian festivals and we couldn't leave it off our list.

    11. November--Puno Week

    This full week of celebrations is one of the best Peruvian festivals.

    Perhaps the name Puno rings a bell? If so, you've got a good memory--this is the same city where our February festival choice of the Fiesta de la Candelaria took place! Puno Week takes place during the beginning of November and centers around November 5th, also known as Puno Day. The purpose of Puno Day, and by extension Puno Week, is to celebrate the legendary birth of one Manco Cápac, said to be the first Inca. This involves a very interesting reenactment of his arrival on the shores of Lake Titicaca bordering the city--and it's also just a great excuse to party the whole week long.

    12. December--Santuranticuy

    Santuranticuy is the final entry on our Peruvian festivals list.

    Image appears courtesy of www.cuscoperu.com.

    As we wind down our list, a few things should by now be obvious: the first is that Peruvians love their festivals, and the second is that many of these Peruvian festivals feature religious--and here that means Catholic--themes. The final entry on our list is of course no exception--Santuranticuy is held exclusively in the city of Cusco each year on Christmas Eve, December 24th, and is essentially a massive outdoor marketplace set up to celebrate the holiday. The festival's name, which means "sale of saints," is quite appropriate, as the primary draw here are dolls, sculptures, and figurines used to decorate the nacimientos, or Catholic nativity scenes, found in many Peruvian homes during the Christmas season. However, even if you aren't religious, you're sure to find something of interest at this most shopper-friendly of Peruvian festivals.

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